The Autumn Lull

Elizabeth Bluemle - October 18, 2016

ibg-common-titledetailThis time of year, as the leaves are starting to change and we are just past the height of leaf-ogling tourist season, we usually find ourselves having a sales lull. Part of it is that holiday shopping hasn’t started in earnest, kids are fully into the demands of homework and fall sports, and the weather is gorgeous. It’s pretty clear that the corn mazes, hay rides, pumpkin selecting, apple picking, horseback rides, and Halloween costume prep eclipse book browsing.

The folks who are shopping right now are in the mood to share books about fall and the changing seasons with children. In addition to longtime favorites such as The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown and Leonard Weisgard, Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall and Barbara Cooney,  and The Year at Maple Hill Farm by Alice and Martin Provensen, along with newer favorites like Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zeitlow Miller, Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell, and Duck & Goose Find a Pumpkin by Tad Hills, here are a few titles out this fall to add to the harvest:
The art style, color palette, and energetic, bright, round people in Lynn Plourde and Susan Gal’s September release, Bella’s Fall Coat, reminded me SO MUCH of books from my 1970s early childhood that I instantly liked it on first sight — and happily, the story turned out to live up to the art. I am extremely fond of this sweet grandmother-granddaughter story about an exuberant little girl who doesn’t want to give up the favorite patchwork coat, now nearly outgrown, that her grandma made her, but during her exploration in the woods, finds a solution that makes everyone happy. It’s a simple story that will resonate with lots of tots.
Newly out in paperback, Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis by Robbin Gourley is a celebration of the amazing bounties gathered on a Virginia farm throughout the year. It’s also the story of the girl who grew up on that farm and became a renowned chef in New York City, championing fresh, farm-to-table food long before it was fashionable. Edna Lewis wasn’t a chef I was familiar with before reading this pretty picture book filled with delicious food (and five of Lewis’s recipes), but it made me wish I’d had a chance to sample her food! And it is a terrific way to connect young readers to a life spent caring for the earth and appreciating its gifts.
Not a picture book, but a slim, illustrated novel in verse told in three points of view, this is a gentle story of loss and healing. Every fall, Faith and her brother, Peter, look forward to their fun, storytelling Uncle Arthur’s visit for the apple harvest — and his tall tales about how he lost the missing half of his finger. But this year, Arthur’s beloved wife, Lucy, has passed away, and the kids aren’t sure he’ll be up for a visit. When he does arrive, minus some of his spark, the family still shares stories, helping the healing process move forward. The short verse and soft illustrations contribute to the charm and coziness of this warm family tale.
Penguin’s little brother, Pumpkin, is too small to join Penguin and his friends on their adventure to discover what fall looks like. While he stays home and imagines what fall would look like in outer space, Penguin and his pals travel far and wide. They don’t forget Pumpkin’s enthusiasm, and when their journey brings them back home, they carry fun autumn surprises with them. Salina Yoon has a highly developed skill for sweetness.
This weekend, our lull should be over and sales should pick up again as children, teens, and adults come in for spooky stories to freak out themselves and each other. We’ll be ready!

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